You're about to hear a lot about one of these World Series storylines
Every year, the World Series sparks a discussion about how the two teams got there and what the matchup says about the state of baseball and the future of the game. While those narratives occasionally have some merit, they tend to become caricatures of themselves as they get repeated over the span of four to seven games.
As we inch closer to the 2018 World Series, it's about time we start thinking about which stories will be told for each potential matchup. These are our best guesses for what "they" will be talking about for each of the four possible combinations of teams.
Brewers vs. Red Sox: Bullpenning vs. starting pitching
History is littered with heroic tales of starting pitchers putting their teams on their shoulders and pitching them to victory. With pitchers like Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello, the Red Sox are built to potentially add another chapter to that legacy.
The Brewers ... well ... they're built a bit differently. In Game 1 of the NLDS against the Rockies, the Brewers didn't even send a traditional starter to the mound. Instead, Brandon Woodruff opened the game despite not starting for the team since June 10. He pitched three innings before turning it over to the likes of Corbin Burnes, Corey Knebel and Josh Hader in the bullpen.
With the Rays popularizing the role of the opener in 2018, expect to hear a lot about the contrast between the Brewers relief-dominant pitching staff vs. the Red Sox's more traditional starter-heavy construction. Whichever team wins will, of course, determine which is the true future of baseball.
Dodgers vs. Red Sox: The history
This series will feature two of the three oldest ballparks in baseball in Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium, and you can be sure you'll hear a lot about their history.
You'll probably also hear about the 1916 World Series when the Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Robins in five games. This will give folks a chance to talk about figures like Babe Ruth -- who pitched 13 shutout innings for the Red Sox in Game 2 -- and Casey Stengel. But it will also serve as a jumping-off point to talk about the greatness of these two classic franchises.
For four to seven nights, we'll be treated to montages of all the Hall of Famers and legends to wear the storied Dodgers and Red Sox uniforms: Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Sandy Koufax, Cy Young, Fernando Valenzuela, Pedro Martinez (who wore both uniforms) and Clayton Kershaw. Baseball is a game defined by its history, and history will definitely define this Series.
Brewers versus Astros: The rebuild
When the Astros won the World Series in 2017, it was the culmination of a lengthy rebuilding process undertaken by an analytically inclined front office. We heard about the 100-loss seasons and the prescient Sports Illustrated cover. That narrative played itself out with their 2017 success.
Instead, this year you'll hear about how the Brewers and Astros meeting in the World Series proves once and for all the strategic superiority of the full teardown and rebuild model.
You see, the Brewers had a pretty good team of their own about 10 years ago. After failing to get over the top, they followed the now-common rebuilding model. They traded their aging core for prospects and focused on developing the next great Brewers team from within. Thanks to that, they now have players like Orlando Arcia and Jesus Aguilar on offense and Burnes, Knebel and Hader flummoxing hitters out of the bullpen.
And now, two stripped-down-and-rebuilt teams meet in the World Series. The nerds have won.
Dodgers versus Astros: The rematch
The 2017 World Series between the Astros and Dodgers went to seven games, but apparently that wasn't enough as both teams are back for more. To make the rematch even better, both teams are largely the same with a little more Gerrit Cole, Manny Machado and Max Muncy and a little less Corey Seager and Yu Darvish.
You'll hear a lot about how each team made its way back to the Fall Classic by overcoming adversity with injuries (Dodgers) or an Achilles heel (Astros bullpen) and fighting off surprising challengers in their divisions. But, most of all, you'll see highlights from the 2017 World Series ... lots of 'em. If you're not careful, you may even think you're watching a replay of last year.